Pronounce it: praw-n
There are thousands of different species of prawn, but tiger, king and North Atlantic are the most commonly sold in the UK. They are fished in both the ocean and fresh water, and are farmed as well as wild.
Most of them have a narrow, tapering body, under which the tail is curled, and long, whiskery antennae. The body is encased in a brittle shell, and all types have ten legs. When raw, they are bluey-grey or, in the case of the smaller varieties, almost translucent.
When cooked, the shells turn pink and the sweet, meaty flesh turns white tinged with pink; brief cooking is essential, otherwise the flesh will become tough. As with other types of crustacea, prawns fished in cold waters tend to be more flavourful than those from warm waters. Although anatomically incorrect, the part of the prawn eaten, the meaty body, is referred to as the tail. The very small shellfish referred to as shrimps are prawns, too - the term shrimp just indicates their diminuitive size.